MENTION camping and, for a lot of people, it stirs all sorts of happy childhood memories.
They go misty-eyed over thoughts of campfires, summer days playing in fields and splashing in streams followed by nights under the stars.
You may even have watched a Ray Mears documentary and thought, “I could do that”, as he makes a broth from pine cones and a handful of moss for his dinner before getting the best night’s sleep of his life resting on half an inch of leaves.
But when you’ve hit middle age, and you’ve got a few precious days off work with your family, do you really want to be roughing it?
Do you want to be shuffling about with a torch in the middle of the night when nature calls?
How’s your back going to feel after a night on that camp bed? And is it all going to turn a bit Lord Of The Flies once the kids’ phone batteries have died and there’s no TV in the tent?
And this is before we hand over our luck to the climate emergency, leaving us either record-breakingly hot or just rained on.
We’ve just returned from a half-term break in Shrewsbury, staying at Love2Stay’s Glamping Safari Lodges and I can now see why glamping is attracting so many happy campers back to sites across the country.
The lodges are glamping luxury, with underfloor heating, fitted kitchen and a stylish bathroom with a huge roll top bath.
If you really feel the chill — or want to live out those Ray Mears fantasies — there’s a log burning stove in the lounge and a fire pit outside. The staff come round daily to top you up with free logs.
If camping is all about outdoor cooking for you, they also have gas BBQ kitchens available for hire.
On the campsite, Issy, 11, and Lauren, eight, enjoyed the natural swimming pool and adventure playground, before graduating to paddle boarding classes and tackling a military assault course that we were told has left many an adult traumatised.
The friendly, young team leading the activities also ran outdoor cooking, den building and wood carving courses, and this is all bookable online ahead of your arrival.
There’s plenty for mums and dads to enjoy, too. We’d recommend you book in for a massage if you’re tackling that assault course, or try a pilates in the well-equipped gym.
One of the best ways to see them is by climbing the nearby Wrekin, which dominates the skyline.
The mile-long trail has sweeping views across Shropshire, and there’s even a tea shop half way up if you need to rest those legs.
I’d also recommend the short drive into Shrewsbury for its medieval castle, pretty Tudor shops and riverside pubs and restaurants.
For even more leisurely sight- seeing, book a cruise on the Sabrina, a boat trip that takes in views from the river Severnas it loops around the town.
On our final night, the kids were sat around a roaring fire pit playing cards while my wife and I enjoyed a final soak in the hot tub.
This was our first glamping trip since an uncomfortable foray into camping a few years back.
Can we really hold on to any romantic vision of the traditional camping trip after a stay like this?
Nah . . . forget the camping, we’ll carry on glamping.
STAYING THERE: Three nights’ self-catering in a glamping safari lodge with use of park amenities is from £105pp, based on four sharing in low season, and £195pp based on four sharing in high season. Instructor-led activities cost extra. See love2stay.co.uk.